An ex-Ukip councillor from Suffolk has been charged with the murder of his wife after emergency services found her unresponsive in their home on 30 December. Stephen Searle, a former Royal Marine commando, will appear in court on Tuesday (2 January).
Paramedics who arrived at the couple's house in The Brickfields confirmed that 62-year-old Anne Searle had died at the scene, but the cause of death was still unclear. A post-mortem was reportedly conducted on 31 December and further tests are expected to be conducted in the coming days.
"On arrival at the property a woman, believed to be aged in her 60s, was discovered unresponsive. Paramedics attended the address but the woman was declared deceased at the scene," a spokesman for Suffolk Police told The Sun.
"The death is being treated as suspicious and a man has been arrested on suspicion of murder. A police cordon is in place at the property whilst officers carry out an investigation."
Searle was married to his wife for more than 30 years and the couple had three sons along with multiple grandchildren. The 64-year-old was known for standing for the pro-Brexit party in the General Election and also sold remembrance poppies for the Royal British Legion.
Neighbours were shocked by the incident, with one man, Richard Hallet, describing Stephen as a nice bloke. "I think the gentleman from the house where the woman died worked with the Salvation Army and did the poppy collection. He seemed like a nice bloke. We tend to get the poppies from him," he said.
"I saw the ambulance at about 11pm. There was one ambulance and two rapid response vehicles and three police cars," he recalled.
"I saw a load of flashing lights outside and thought something must have happened," another local added. "I never imagined it could be something like this. What an awful thing to happen at this time of year."
According to his political record, Searle was elected as a Suffolk county councillor in May 2013 after beating Conservative candidate and county council Vice Chair Anne Whybrow by a single vote. He ran again in May 2017 but was unsuccessful.
The suspect also stood as Ukip parliamentary candidate for Suffolk Central and Ipswich North in the June general election but came in last from among five candidates.